4.1 Tim Burton’s Gothic Fantasy: Representing the Victorian Culture through Animation and Parody
Film adaptations based on particular works such as Dickens’s Great Expectations are not the only means through which we get a glimpse of Victorian culture and society. Animated films such as Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (2005) represent the Victorian era through humor and exaggeration and reveal Burton’s awareness of 19th century English society. In his study Gothic Fantasy: The Films of Tim Burton, Edwin Page argues that Burton’s films are not realistic in nature, but like fairy tales they communicate through symbolic imagery, as they speak of “things far deeper within our conscious and subconscious minds than most films would dare to delve” (7).…show more content… In chapter 1, I referred to the term “grotesque” as a means through which the figure of Miss Havisham is represented in Dickens’s Great Expectations. Here, the grotesque is the most important artistic mode that Burton uses in order to create an imaginary world loosely based in the Victorian era. As Phillip Thomson explains, “the grotesque is a game with the absurd, in the sense that the grotesque artist plays, half laughingly half horrified, with the deep absurdities of existence” (18). Moreover, the grotesque can take either the form of the terrifying or the comic, and therefore the artist is called to abide by one of these subforms. In Burton’s case the grotesque is visually expressed through “the burlesque and the vulgarly funny”, the extravagant, but at the same time he insists on keeping the uncanny and supernatural mood in his films (Thomson 20).
Corpse Bride (2005) is one of Burton’s animated movies that is distinctively characterized by its dark humor; its purpose is not merely to assimilate the Victorian reality through animation, but to parody and subvert it. If cinematic adaptation is a (re)interpretation of a narrative text as examined in chapters 2 and 3, then animation is an equally powerful artistic mode that “should be seen as an art and a craft across multiple platforms and disciplines, and the tool by which art, science, culture and the human condition has been imagined and re-imagined” (Hardstaff and Wells 184). Animated films are